Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini has backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to emerge from this current slump and take Manchester United back to the top.
Cristiano Ronaldo secured a memorable 3-2 comeback victory when these sides met for the first time a fortnight ago in the Champions League.
But things went awry days later as United were humbled 5-0 at home by arch rivals Liverpool, leaving Solskjaer facing the most intense pressure and scrutiny of his reign.
The 1999 treble hero kept his job and led the side to a 3-0 win at Tottenham on Saturday, kicking off a key week that sees them host Manchester City after Tuesday’s Group F game in Bergamo.
Gasperini thinks United are “still under construction” but believes Solskjaer remains the right man to take the Old Trafford giants forwards.
“I can only talk about what I’ve seen in terms of the way they play and the results they’ve got,” the Atalanta head coach said.
“I think they had an incredible run towards the back end of last season. They finished as runners-up and then they lost the Europa League final, but he certainly did a top-class job.
“This year I think he’s still trying to find consistency with a team that has a great deal of potential and they’ve shown that from time to time.
“But I really believe that he will find the right fit and he will be able to take Manchester United back to the top, and that includes in the Premier League.”
United are fifth in the league and sit atop of the Champions League group following the 3-2 win in the reverse fixture – a match Atalanta were without a string of first-team players for.
Rafael Toloi, Berat Djimsiti, Matteo Pessina and Robin Gosens remain unavailable for Gasperini, who is ready for the visitors to play with a three-man defence like they did when beating Spurs.
“Tomorrow night’s game will be a completely different match to the reverse fixture,” he added. “Every game is different.
“We did show a great deal of character at Old Trafford. There were more than 70,000 in that night.
“We set up very well, we had some very positive passages of play, there were other times when we had to dig in, but of course, that game will always stay with us.
“As for how we’re to approach tomorrow night’s match, it’s a different kettle of fish.
“We need to make sure that we are willing and ready to take on Manchester United based on whether they set up as they did in their last game against Tottenham or whether they will set up as they did in the reverse fixture.
“From a tactical perspective, of course, those are two very different things but we have to be versatile and adaptable to make sure we’re able to match whatever they do, be it from the start of the game or as the match wears on.”